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Volunteers needed for Pine Island Sound Scallop Search

By Staff | Jul 27, 2011

Join the University of Florida/Lee County Sea Grant Extension program and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) by participating in the 2011 Pine Island Sound Scallop Search, a resource-monitoring program in which volunteers snorkel, looking for scallops in select areas within Pine Island Sound.

The event will be held on Saturday, Aug. 13 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Large populations of bay scallops (or Argopecten irradians) disappeared from Southwest Florida waters decades ago due in large part to degraded water quality, related declines in seagrass acreage, over-harvesting and other causes. Water quality and seagrasses have improved in many areas to levels that may once again support these important bivalves.

This event is modeled after the successful Great Bay Scallop Search, conducted in Tampa Bay since 1993. Pine Island Sound’s inaugural event was in 2010.

The purpose of the Pine Island Sound Scallop Search is to monitor and document the health and status of the bay scallop population. Up to 40 boats are needed, with as many as 150 participants to search selected sites in Pine Island Sound and San Carlos Bay for the elusive “bay scallop.”

Organizers are recruiting volunteers with shallow-draft boats. Please let them know the style and size of your boat. Please bring a dive flag if you have one. Canoes and kayaks are also welcome, but sites are very limited. Personal watercraft (i.e. jet skis, SeaDoos, etc.) are not allowed in the search. Please let them know how many additional people can be taken aboard so they can pair you with additional volunteers.

Snorkelers without boats are welcome, however space is limited. Volunteers need to bring a mask, snorkel and gloves and be able to snorkel/swim 50 meters (about 150 feet) along the bottom –fins and a weight belt are optional but suggested.

Advanced reservations are required to participate in the event. Space is limited, so volunteers are encouraged to reserve their spots as soon as possible.

Scallop searchers will meet at 9 a.m. at Pineland Marina, located at 13921 Waterfront Drive in Pineland. Once participants arrive onsite, they will receive survey equipment and instructions for the monitoring event. Organizers will provide lunch to participants once they return to shore and report their information.

Event sponsors include, Florida Sea Grant, SCCF, Pineland Marina, The Home Depot, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program and Friends of the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves.

Sign up today at www.2011pineislandscallopsearch.eventbrite.com/ or by e-mailing Joy at hazellje@leegov.com or calling the Florida Sea Grant – Lee County Extension Office at 239-533-7518.